Parents warned about term leave

SUFFOLK education bosses have today reminded parents to avoid taking children out of school during term time. The move comes after a High Court ruling that could lead to parents facing prosecution if they take their children on term-time holidays.

SUFFOLK education bosses have today reminded parents to avoid taking children out of school during term time.

The move comes after a High Court ruling that could lead to parents facing prosecution if they take their children on term-time holidays.

The case centred around a mother in Bromley, Kent, who took her three children out of their primary school for two separate holidays.

The school had refused permission and asked the local authority to intervene. The original case was lost, but was overturned yesterday at the High Court.

The ruling effectively classifies such absences as truancy.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “Parents must be aware that they do not have the right to take their children out of school for holidays during term time.

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“Such absences should always be kept to the minimum. We issue schools with the Department of Education and Skills guidance on holiday absence, which stresses that requests for pupils to be allowed such time away from school should only be granted very sparingly.

“The decision to take a child out of class during term time rests purely with the school. Any such requests should be discussed with the school at the earliest opportunity.”

The ruling has been welcomed by teaching unions.

Jerry Bartlett, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), said: “The Bromley case is not an isolated one. NASUWT cannot support parents taking children out of the classroom and this ruling is warmly welcomed. Education should be viewed as a priority by everyone in society and that includes parents.”

HEADTEACHERS today said children do miss out if taken away during term time.

Anna Hennell-James, headteacher at Whitehouse Junior School, in Marlow Road, said she makes the final decision on whether parents can take their children away from school during term time.

She added: “Holidays taken during term time are at the discretion of the headteacher and it is not automatic.”

Mrs Hennell-James said she looks at a child's attendance carefully before agreeing to term time absence.

She added: “We encourage parents not to do it but I do understand why some do. However if I do not give permission and the child is taken out of school anyway then it is recorded as an unauthorised absence (truancy) and details passed to the education welfare service.”

Margo Barker, headteacher at Downing Primary School, in Downing Close, Ipswich said children miss large chunks of the curriculum if they leave during term time.

She added: “Our parents are very good here and we rarely get requests for term time leave of absence. There is an argument that some trips are educational but children do find it difficult to catch up.

“Given how much holidays we have I would always encourage families to take holidays outside of term time.”

Kevin Tomlin, headteacher at Halifax Primary School in Prince of Wales Drive, Ipswich, called on travel agents to reduce prices during the school holidays.

He said: “A week is a significant time in a child's education. We are not at school all year round and they will have other days off for sickness, etc. Time off during term time will put children at a disadvantage.”

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